South Korea’s crude oil, petroleum product, LNG, LPG and coal imports from the United States totaled US$4.009 billion from January to November this year, up 148.2% from a year ago, according to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) on December 20.
Specifically, LPG imports from the U.S. increased 57.9% year on year to US$1.71 billion, accounting for 64.5% of South Korea’s total LPG imports. During the same period, South Korea’s LPG imports from the Middle East fell 35.5% to US$637 million.
Coal imports from the U.S. rose 187% to US$748 million. Crude oil and LNG imports from the U.S. began to increase rapidly in the fourth quarter of last year. LNG imports skyrocketed from almost zero to US$673 million and crude oil imports soared by no less than 779% to US$606 million. Crude oil imports from the United States had been zero in the third quarter of last year, but the amount reached 2.3 million barrels in the third quarter of 2017. The amount totaled 5.4 million barrels for the first three quarters of this year, up 1,233% from a year earlier.
This year, South Korea has imported an increasing amount of crude oil from Asian countries as well, reducing its dependence on crude oil imports from the Middle East. The ratio of crude oil from the Middle East in South Korea’s total crude oil imports fell from 88.5% to 82.6% between the third quarters of 2016 and 2017.
The KITA explained that more energy imports from the U.S. is an effective way of reducing South Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. while stabilizing energy prices by means of on import diversification.